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OWB

Nate Pond, D-69

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  Nate Pond, D-69, passed away at the age of 87 on November 3rd after a period of declining health.  Imagine the changes to the sport this man was able to witness. There will be a service for him today, November 23 at the community church in Andover Vermont. There is talk of putting together a memorial event for him at OSPC in the spring of 2020.

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On ‎11‎/‎23‎/‎2019 at 2:17 PM, JerryBaumchen said:

For the trivia folks:  Nate got that D number when you could request any number that had not been already taken.  In other words, that is the number that he wanted.

Well yeah.  I mean, who wouldn't? ;-) 

BSBD Nate.  Enjoy that big way in the sky.

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On 11/23/2019 at 5:17 PM, JerryBaumchen said:

Hi OWB,

For the trivia folks:  Nate got that D number when you could request any number that had not been already taken.  In other words, that is the number that he wanted.

Jerry Baumchen

 

From what I  understand, Nate was in it from the start, with Sanborn and Istel, before there was even an OSPC.  He quite possibly could have had a single digit D, but he wanted D-69.

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A Memorial Day tribute to USAF veteran and skydiving pioneer, Nate Pond (D-69).  From his 1950s parachuting experiments with his dad, Sebastian “Batch” Pond at Good Hill Farm in CT, through his contributions to Parachutes Incorporated, the first commercial sport parachuting center at Orange, MA, US Parachute Team, Chief Pilot for OSPC and the 1962 World Championships, as a style and accuracy competitor and the first test jumper for Pioneer Parachute Company, his impact on the development of sport parachuting was tremendous. 

Nate balanced supreme airmanship with an uncanny instinct for practical engineering, smashing the envelope and redefining the limits of possible.  He was one of the most gifted stick and rudder pilots I’ve ever flown with.   

We were privileged to meet Nate’s lovely wife Jill at last November’s SRO funeral service. Townsfolk told story after story of the Pond family’s lifelong generosity to neighbors and community…we added another dimension, describing his central role in the history of sport parachuting. 

Nate Pond stories of narrow escapes and miraculous saves are legion. This episode from my days at Precision Airlines sums up how many of us felt about him: 

Nate routinely butted heads with our equally crusty check airman, Ron H, himself a respected Vietnam vet who reportedly brought home two C-130s severely crippled by enemy fire, saving both crews and aircraft.  Despite diametrically opposed views toward regulations, procedures and authority, these guys held a grudging respect for each other.  Nate didn’t mind getting busted…he enjoyed the time off to go skiing during his suspensions before passing another “remedial checkride” with his counterpart.  Ron confessed the true measure of his respect for Nate one day over coffee at Boston/Logan Airport: “Of course Nate passed his checkride again.  I just wish he’d do the right thing in the first place.  On the other hand, if the airplane were on fire with the weather at or below minimums, nowhere else to go and my family riding in the back, there’s no one else I’d rather have flying left seat.”

Thank you for your service to your country and to sport parachuting, Nate. 

Re: D-69: Nate once told me the day came when it was time to assign a dozen or so numbers for the first round of D Licenses.  Lew Sanborn was awarded D-1, Jacques Istel D-2 and so on until it was Nate’s turn.  Instead of the number they offered, he asked for his favorite number: 69.  When I met his son Gary a few years later, he said when it came time to receive his D license, he made a similar request.  He told me he was twice as good as his father, so he requested D-6969.    : < )

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